Michael found it hard to sleep that night. He couldn’t imagine that he had just fought with his childhood best friend. He has never punched anyone in his life. Why did it have to be his best friend and not an enemy? Why couldn’t he control his anger? All these thoughts ran through his mind as he lay on his bed. He could not tell Judith about this as he did not want her to know what James said about her. The last thing he wanted was to see two people he loved dearly not in good terms. He gathered his courage and called James. There was no response. “Did I really expect him to pick up after everything that happened?” he said to himself. After a few minutes, James called back.
James: Hi Mike, sorry I missed your call. I was taking a bath
Michael: Oh ok. I actually thought you didn’t want to respond to my calls. Listen man, I am really sorry for what happened this evening. I didn’t mean to become violent. I just don’t know what came over me
James: It’s alright bro. it happens. I wasn’t really surprised anyway as I have been having the feeling that you have really changed ever since you started seeing this girl, I mean Judith. I don’t recognize you anymore. But hey, we’ve known each other for so long so I can’t allow someone that we just knew for a few days to ruin our friendship. I guess I was also wrong to talk about her in that way, knowing very well that you like her so much. I respect your choice and I wish you all the best with her. You can feel free to talk about her to me anytime
Michael: Wow! Thanks a lot man. And you are right. We’ve known each other for so long. I am also hoping that you find a wonderful lady to settle with soon enough. So, are you planning to go and watch the match organized by the Management team on Saturday?
James: Oh yes. I need to laugh at the CFO with his big belly as he plays
The two laughed so hard. James started gossiping about almost every person at work. Michael was happy that they were friends again.
Almost two months had passed since this event. Michael and James were best of friends again. James was showing some signs of maturity.
It was Monday. During lunch break, James and Michael were having lunch in their Company restaurant.
Michael: Jamie, I want to finally propose to Judith this Thursday. I mean I want to marry her. I feel it is now time for me to settle down.
James: Wow! Pretty cool hun!
Michael: Yea. And I want the proposal to be a special moment and a surprise. I have made an order for an engagement ring at “Mable’s jewelries”. I will need to pick it up on Thursday afternoon. Now, I am thinking of where to do it. Any suggestions?
James: Hmm. Let me think……maybe you can book at Primetime restaurant in Ocean Plaza. They have a very romantic garden there and you can tell them how you want it to be. Like add some candle lights and all that.
Michael: Just great! I will need to call them now to find out the availability. Let me look for their number on the internet.
Michael booked the private garden for the proposal for 6pm. He was already excited. He tried to imagine how happy Judith would be. It is the dream of every girl. He told Judith that he wanted her to accompany him to a cocktail organized by his friend. Judith accepted the invitation.
Thursday finally arrived. Michael had even bought a new shirt and pair of shoes for the occasion. He called the restaurant to confirm that the booking was still on. Around 2pm, he decided to go and pick up the customized engagement ring. As he was about to leave the office, the Chief Financial Officer called him. “Michael, could you please come to my office?” the CFO said. Michael locked his office and went to meet him. He found three other people seated in the office. After the greetings, he was asked to take a seat.
CFO: Michael. We have received a group of auditors from the Headquarters. They are here to do some audit of our financial statements and many other. I present to you the humble gentlemen here. As usual, they take us by surprise.
Michael: Oh ok. You are welcome colleagues. When is the audit supposed to be done?
CFO: Oh right away. They were actually to start since morning but their flight was delayed and they only arrived in the country early this morning. So they had to rest and freshen up before they could come.
Michael looked worried. He thought of his date that night. The jewelry shop closes at exactly 4:30pm. And he already knew how audits take time.
CFO: Is there anything wrong Michael? You look a bit disturbed.
Michael: Not rally, it’s just that I was on my way to pick up something very important and I was thinking the audit could start tomorrow.
CFO: Well, you have to know that this is equally an important assignment that needs to be carried out whether anyone is ready or not.
Michael: Sure sir.
The auditors started their job. As usual, they went through all docvments related to finance. Michael kept looking at his watch. It was almost 3:30pm. He got up and went to meet James.
“Bro, I need your help please. We have just received a group of auditors and they are right now in my office. I do not know what time they will finish. I need you to go and pick up the engagement ring I ordered at the jewelry shop. I can call them and tell them you’ll be coming” Michael said
“Stupid auditors! Always coming when they are least expected! Sure boss. I can do that for you.” James answered
Michael called the shop and explained to them. They agreed to give the ring to James, provided that he informed them via email and gave James’ full ID details. Michael did exactly as he was told using his phone and when they had confirmed receipt of the mail, James left to pick up the ring. After collecting the ring, James had gone straight to his house to change his clothes before heading to the restaurant to witness the engagement day of his best friend.
Michael was still with the auditors. They were still carrying out their work. It was now 5:30 and Michael was getting real upset. He stepped out of his office and called the restaurant “Hello, I am caught up in some very important thing at work and I was wondering if you could move my reservation time to at least 7:30pm” Michael said
“Oh unfortunately sir, I am afraid that won’t be possible because the garden is already booked for 8pm. As I explained to you when you were making your reservation, it is only for two hours. After that, you can move to the main hall if you wish to” the woman on the other end of the line said
Michael was discouraged “Well, ok, can I then cancel my reservation and book for tomorrow at 6pm? He asked
The woman responded “It’s possible but then you will have to pay a penalty fee for the cancellation as it is done in less than 24 hours”
Michael was sad to cancel the reservation, but he had no other option. He informed Judith and James that the event was postponed till the following day. Around 6:30pm, the auditors summoned the CFO and Michael.
Auditor: we have gown through almost all the docvments and we have discovered that there is finance gap of close to 35 thousand dollars of withdrawals that have not been properly accounted
CFO and Michael: Whaaat!
Auditor: Yes. We have tried to find links to some unjustified funds, but they don’t even make up to a quarter of the amount missing.
Michael: That cannot be possible. I have always made sure that all funds released are accounted for. And I don’t ever remember signing for the disbursement of such an amount
Auditor: Well, we don’t know for sure if the amount was disbursed in one lot or in several lots.
CFO: So gentlemen, what is the next move?
Auditor: Since it is already past close of business, we shall continue tomorrow.
Michael went home that day feeling rather surprised. He wondered how such a huge sum of money could leave the account without him being aware of it as he was one of the signatories. “Anyway, I am sure there should be a valid explanation of it. Maybe the auditors were just tired and couldn’t consolidate well” Michael said to James as he informed him of what happened. He spent most of his night working on his docvments for his project.
The following morning, Michael woke up with a terrible headache. He sent an email to the Human Resources Manager to inform them that he would arrive late. He took some medication and rested a while before leaving. At around 10:30am he left for his office.
He had just parked his car in the parking lot and was moving toward the Company building when a young lady approached him. “Hello sir” she called out
Michael thought she was a beggar and he removed some money from the pocket to offer to it to her.
“Oh no, sir. I am not asking for money. I just wanted to have at least 5 minutes of your time to talk to you about Jesus and how much he loves you” she said
“Oh no thank you my dear. I am rushing to my office as you can see. Maybe next time” Michael said
“Ok sir. Thank you for your time. In the meantime, please have this. You can read it when you are free. God bless you” she said as she gave him a leaflet.
Michael took a quick look at it and it read “GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOU”. He folded it and put it in his pocket without paying much attention to it.
He went straight to James’ office to have a look at the ring he had received. “Please keep it well. You can give it to me this evening as we close from Office. My office is currently a mess because of the docvments that the auditors are going through and I wouldn’t want to lose it” Michael said to James
James was escorting him from his office when they suddenly saw the auditors and the CFO coming towards the entrance with policemen in uniforms. They were all surprised. They all walked towards Michael and James. The CFO pointed to Michael and said “This is the man”.
One of the policemen took out handcuffs and said “Mr. Michael, you are under arrest for embezzling funds worth 35,000 Dollars belonging to your company. You have the right to remain silent. If you give up the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you desire an attorney and cannot afford one, an attorney will be obtained for you before police questioning.”
Michael could not believe what was going on. He was handcuffed and taken away by the police. People from the office watched in amazement. James shouted “It cannot be possible. Michael can never do such a thing. I have known him since we were young and he is not capable of committing such a crime”
To be continued